Taiwan has had one of the most effective responses to coronavirus. Currently they have only 300 reported cases and five deaths. But Taiwan are still excluded from the World Health Organization.

A video has gone viral after Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK interviewed Bruce Aylward, the WHO assistant director general.

 

This is how it went:

Tong: Will the WHO reconsider Taiwan’s membership?

Silence

Tong: Hello?

Aylward: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear your question, Yvonne.

Tong: Okay, let me repeat the question.

Aylward: No, that’s okay. Let’s move to another one then.

Tong: I’m actually curious in talking about Taiwan as well, on Taiwan’s case.

Aylward hangs up, Tong then calls him back and asks again

Aylward: Well, we’ve already talked about China.

 

This is not the first accusation of the WHO bowing to pressure from China.

In response to the video, the WHO said membership was “up to WHO member states”, not its staff. The World Health Assembly has excluded Taiwan since 2017, due to strained relations with Beijing.

China wishes to unify with Taiwan, using a similar ‘one country, two systems’ policy that it had with Hong Kong. However, Taiwan strives for independence with 60% identifying as Taiwanese, and only 3% as Chinese.

Strained relations also mean that Taiwan is not offered a seat at the table for many intergovernmental organisations. This includes UN agencies such as the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), the WHO, and the Convention on Climate Change. There was also tension with the International Olympic Committee.

Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan’s health minister, pointed out that this should be a learning opportunity. The minister stated that “epidemics do not have borders” and the world should learn from this.

 

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